ISIL cornered in Raqqah, Mosul – Biden

WASHINGTON, Jan 28 (KUNA) — US Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that the US-led coalition managed to put the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or IS) on the defensive in their strongholds of Raqqah, central north Syria, and Mosul, north Iraq, in the recent weeks.
“After Ramadi, watch what happens in Raqqah and in Mosul by the end of the year,” Biden said at a House Democratic Party retreat in Baltimore discussing the campaign against the militant group.
Commenting on Biden’s remarks, the White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that in Raqqah, steps are being taken by the United States and its coalition partners to apply pressure to IS.
“There are already airstrikes that have been taken by the United States and our coalition partners in Raqqah against ISIL targets,” Earnest said at a press briefing.
“Those strikes have also taken place in the vicinity of Mosul as well. And we are going to continue to keep up that pressure against them.” Ultimately, the decision to have Iraqi forces move against IS in Mosul will be made by the Iraqis, he noted.
“They will do so in close coordination with the United States and our coalition partners. “Obviously, they will also be relying on training that they have received from the United States and our coalition partners, and military air power that can be leveraged by the United States and our coalition partners,” he went on.
Opposition fighters have made a lot of progress in northern and northeastern Syria, and have advanced toward Raqqah, Earnest said.
“But in order to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL and accomplish that goal, we are going to need to root ISIL leaders out of Mosul and out of Raqqah, and that is a significant task,” he added. (end) rm.gb